Matthew Kilbane

It’s Her Experience by *Mary Hope


We grew up

together slowly, never

quite the go-getters, better rather

at waiting for the world to come

to us—so, that weekend of your visit

we stunned ourselves by waking

with the sun, walking

miles to the market

ahead of any crowd, and scarfing

breakfast burritos with coffee

on the inlet’s long dock,

then in skinny

red boats we’d rented

rowing all morning

the deep lake

whose claim to fame’s the

inexplicable BOOMS said

to shake the hills

and fill the sky with trouble,

and is for those folks

miles around lucky

enough to hear it,

and vouch this local legend

of the so-called “Seneca Guns,”

their once in a lifetime rousing

brush with mystery, or

if “mystery” embarrasses you,

then whatever hollowing

hunger it was that had us

rapt ’til nightfall, oldest friends

with our oars dry listening

hard at the hushed

lake’s middle,

for the startling report

from the somewhere battle

we had been fighting all

of a sudden our

whole lives, waiting

for this strange artillery

to fire back


    It’s after Burger King

some Saturday. We’re standing

at the front desk of the downtown Laser Quest

    fastening our toy armor and

choosing code-names.

    Excited, you say “‘Killer,’

please” but the teenage clerk grimaces

and nixes this, per the fine print

    against expressly violent

noms de guerre. It’s a silly rule

    for what’s at base

a war game, and you don’t get it:

“How’s about ‘The Assassin,’ then?”

    The kid sighs, explains again.

    There are words we can’t have

for what we can’t have

been. “I’ll be The Killer Bee”

you say, and now I’m blushing, staring

    down, where soon

you’ll thrill to shoot me—

in the flashing plastic

    flesh of my heart


Originally from Cleveland, OH and a graduate of Oberlin College and Purdue University’s MFA program, Matthew Kilbane is currently completing a PhD at Cornell University. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gettysburg Review, Jacket2, Scoundrel Time, The Adroit Journal, DIAGRAM, Southern Indiana Review, the Best of the Net Anthology and elsewhere.


*Mary Hope is an artist from Alabama.